For Bill Krause, owning a coffee shop is no small beans.
"I'll roast or I'll do a million other things that I have to do," said Krause. "Running errands, you name it."
He can't run his shop alone. He has one full-time and 12 part-time employees on his payroll at the Dunn Brother Coffee near Highway 55 and Vicksburg Lane in Plymouth. The shop is open nearly 16 hours a day, making labor Krause's second highest expense behind the cost of goods.
"I have all sorts of costs and my goal is to try and minimize those and be as efficient as I can be," said Krause, who added that goal will be harder to reach if legislation that proposes raising the state's minimum wage passes.
"I'll have less hours for my employees," he said. "I'll have to cut store hours. I'll have to work myself more."
Wednesday, a House committee heard testimony from both sides of the minimum wage debate. Thursday, the committee will vote on a bill to raise the state's minimum wage for large employers from its current rate of $6.15 an hour to $10.55 an hour beginning in August 2015. Small employers would see an increase from $5.25 an hour to $.900 an hour by 2015.
Business owners voiced concerns similar to Krause's. Some also said imposing a higher minimum wage would force employers to pass the costs to their customers by raise prices for goods and services or reduce the goods and services they offer.
"An increase of this magnitude is unprecedented and unwarranted," said Rob Hart from the Employer Solutions Staffing Group.
On the other side of the issue, low wage workers like Jessica English, who is a homeless single mother of four, told the committee she will never be able to dig herself out of poverty if the minimum wage remains at its current rate.
"Someone needs to do the math, not the math of making more profits, not the math for the shareholders, but the math of real families and the real cost of living," she told the committee. "Please raise the minimum wage. Please put a higher value on my work and my family."
Chief author of the bill, Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, said raising the minimum wage would not only help workers, but it would also benefit the state's struggling economy.
"Businesses might be concerned about some rising cost for some of the workers, but what happens is they get a lot more customers coming through their doors who are spending money," said Winkler. "So it's a boost for the economy and it helps a lot of people who are struggling to get by."
Krause doesn't buy it.
"People are going to stop buying the five dollar latte and make it at home," he said. "So I can't raise prices infinitely and expect the same type of return."
Krause said he's had to put plans of purchasing a second store on hold while he waits for lawmakers to flush out these and other business-related proposals. He said the current business climate is much different than what it was when he bought his shop about two years ago.
"If I knew I had to go from [less than seven dollars] to $10.55 an hour I would not have bought this business," he said.
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